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Joggling Interview – Travis Saunders Canada’s Mid-distance Joggling Speedster

Here’s another in our series of interviews with other jogglers around the world. We first learned of Travis when he wasTravis Saunders joggler attempting to break the world record for joggling a 5K back in April. He missed by only 10 seconds, but still had an impressive 17:05 performance.

Introduction: Travis Saunders is a 23 year-old Health Physiology Masters student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He is originally from Fredericton, New Brunswick. What is it about Canada that produces such great jogglers? Billed as an Entertainer Extraordinaire, he is an accomplished juggler, runner and joggler. At one time he held world joggling records in the 200 m and the 4 x 100 m relay record.

JYAJ: When did you start joggling?

SAUNDERS: I started joggling at the International Juggling Association (IJA) summer festival in Pittsburgh in 1997. I was 12, and had been juggling for 3 years and running for about as long, so entering the joggling competitions was a natural fit. I won the Junior 100m and 400m and got to call myself the junior world champion, which was pretty cool at that age.

JYAJ: Why did you start joggling?

SAUNDERS: I was a juggler who happened to also be a runner, so when I read about joggling it sounded like something that I would probably enjoy. Also, I wasn’t a good enough juggler to compete in the IJA stage or numbers juggling competitions, so joggling appealed to me because it was a juggling-related sport that I could excel at.

JYAJ: How many races have you done while joggling?

SAUNDERS: I’ve competed in 2 joggling World Championships (1997 and 2000), the Prefontaine Classic, Eastern Canadian Championships, and the Limestone Classic 5km. Other than my 5km world record attempt earlier this year, all of my past joggling races have been on the track, ranging from 100m to 3000m.

JYAJ: What are some of your favorite races?

SAUNDERS: My favorite races were my two world records – winning the 200m Senior World Championship at the IJA festival in Montreal in 2000, and the 4 x 100m relay at the Eastern Canadian Track and Field Championships in Saint John, New Brunswick, in 2001. I won the 200m World Record by defeating Albert Lucas, who is probably the most accomplished juggler in the world, a huge thrill, even more than getting the record itself.

The 4 x 100m relay record at the Eastern Canadian Track and Field Championships was fun because it was set by myself and 3 other jogglers from my province (New Brunswick). We did it at our home track in front of a lot of friends and family. New Brunswick is a very small province and at the Eastern Canadian Championships we tend not to win many medals, so for our little team to set a world record felt really nice. It was also unique for me because it was a regular track and field meet, rather than one specific to joggling. When they announced that we had broken the old record there was a huge cheer from the stadium, which was really a nice feeling.

Both records have been broken by joggler Chris Essick and his relay team.

Coming into the finish line at the Limestone Classic 5km was also a great feeling, because I had a lot of teammates and co-workers lining the streets cheering me on as I came in.

jogglingJYAJ: What is your best story about joggling?

SAUNDERS: After I set the world record in the 200m, I was invited to take part in an exhibition 200m joggling race at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon. It is the biggest annual track meet in the USA, and is run in front of over 10,000 people. The meet is full of World and Olympic champions, including Maurice Greene, Hicham El Guerrouj, Alan Webb, and Bruny Surin (a Canadian hero of mine). Although I lost the race and my world record that day, it was an amazing experience to be treated like a world-class athlete, and to compete at a world-class event in front of that many people on one of the most famous tracks in the world.

JYAJ: What kind of training do you do? How fast do you run?

SAUNDERS: Most of my training is just regular running. I do relatively high mileage (60-90 miles a week), with 2-3 workouts a week, usually intervals or longer tempo runs. In general that would all be done without joggling.

I know that many jogglers joggle all the time, but I also compete on the Queen’s University Cross Country and Track and Field Teams, so my training tends to focus on running, rather than joggling. I think that has hurt me, especially in my 5km world record attempt. I missed the record by less than 10 seconds, and to be honest running at that pace was quite easy, but my arms and core were very tired and started to tie-up by the last 200m because I wasn’t as used to the juggling. I only did about 3 weeks of specific joggling training, which was mainly doing 1-3 km intervals at race pace.

In future joggling races I will need to do much more joggling interval training. In comparison, in high school when my joggling races were generally just sprints, I would do a few joggling sprint intervals as part of my warm-up for my regular non-joggling track workout, but that was about the extent of my joggling specific training.

JYAJ: How long do you think you will keep joggling?

SAUNDERS: This is my last year of collegiate eligibility, so after this year I think that I will be able to focus more on the joggling, since I won’t need to worry about my team commitments. Thanks to blogs like this, and the great performances of people like Chris Essick, Michal Kapral, and Albert Lucas, joggling is much more well-known and respected as a sport than when I first started in 1997. If that hadn’t happened I doubt I would have done much more joggling in the future.

JYAJ: Do you eat a special diet?

SAUNDERS: Haha no. My girlfriend is a vegetarian and since I eat most of my meals with her my diet has been quite a bit healthier lately, which I think is a good thing. I would say that my diet is similar to most college runners – generally healthy, but the occasional plate of fries, WAY too much pizza, and a beer or two on occasion.

JYAJ: Do you have any advice for would-be jogglers?

SAUNDERS: I would suggest that if you want to be a fast joggler, you need to be a fast runner. When I first got involved, it seemed that most jogglers were jugglers who enjoyed running, which led to some fairly soft world records. Now it seems that many of the top jogglers are very good runners who have decided to take up juggling specifically so that they can joggle, which has led to some phenomenal times. I am especially impressed by the times in the marathon the past few years. In my experience it’s much easier to learn to juggle than it is to learn how to run a 2:50 marathon or a 16:50 5km or a 60 second 400m, so I think that becoming a very good runner is the key to becoming a very good joggler.

JYAJ: Is there anything I didn’t ask that you thought I should?

SAUNDERS: I’ve really enjoyed reading the Just Your Average Joggler blog and hearing about other jogglers, because it’s such a different background from how I became involved in the sport. For me joggling has always been the most fun when you’re running full-out or close to it, and I have rarely (if ever) done mileage runs while joggling. Reading about the experiences of people who joggle almost every run, or who have joggled in marathons, has given me a lot more appreciation for joggling as a sport unto itself. I don’t think I’ll ever do much mileage while joggling, but it’s nice to hear how people are enjoying the sport and spreading the word in any way, shape or form.

Thanks so much Travis! And for more information about Travis check out his great site. Also, see a track and field message board where you can trade messages with Travis and other joggling speedsters in Canada.

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